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Did we all miss the memo?

Jan 08, 2024

Did we all miss the memo?

You know the one I mean. The one that suggests that by rights we should be dead already, & we only struggle through menopause & beyond, because we're living longer than we're programmed to, than we ever have before. This notion that suggests that only our ovaries got the memo, & the rest of us is just loitering, waiting to catch up.

Many of you will have heard or read of the idea that going through menopause isn't natural, because for aons humans would have been dead by the age of 45. This is considered to be the reason why we can have such a bad time of it - because we've not evolved to live beyond it.

I am going to counter that suggestion by claiming that it's utter b*llocks! It's predicated on the fact that life expectancy used to be much lower. But 'life expectancy' is simply a statistical construct where the numbers are terrifically skewed by 1) infant & maternal mortality numbers, & 2) deaths due to infections & contagious diseases.

If historical woman made it through childhood & child-bearing, and managed not to succumb to cholera, plague, or whatever, her lifespan could easily reach into her 60s & 70s. We are naturally meant to live decades past menopause.

So why is that? What benefits are there for women to not be fertile all their lives?

Humans & some whale species are the only known creatures to experience menopause. Most mammals remain fertile throughout life.

And one reason for these anomalies, is the value that non-fertile women bring to their societies. Bearing offspring (obviously) takes up a lot of time & energy. Being relieved of those duties means that a society can fully benefit from ALL the recognised skills and experience those women have accrued. 

Older whale cows are the leaders of their pods. Older women in traditional societies are the most effective foragers. They know the most about traditional medicines. They can provide grandmother duties, thus enabling younger women to have more children & maintain the gene pool. 

There is also some suggestion that we're ALL living longer as natural selection has preferred the longest living women because of these skills.

In short, we're all experiencing menopause & living for years beyond it, not because of some by-product of modern medicine, but because we have skills that are invaluable to society over, above & beyond an ability to bear children.

So whether you have been able or chosen to have children, or not, it is not the beginning & end of your 'function'. We may not be foragers or medicine women, but we may be in the most productive & valuable times of our lives. 

You have immense skills & experience. What can you be doing with them?

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